Art education gets left behind in most schools. The Chennai Photo Biennale, a not-for-profit foundation, is trying to bring art education to the forefront with its second International photography festival which commences February 22. The festival, to be held across venues in Chennai, will showcase the works of over 150 artists from across the world.
“We started the Chennai Photo Biennale four years ago. Along with the exhibition, we conducted workshops and invited artists from across the globe to share their experience. Since last year, we decided to reach out to younger audiences and potential photographers of the future. So the best way to reach them was through schools,” explains Gayathri Nair, one of the trustees of the festival.
But teaching children the nuances of photography is tough given their busy schedules at school. Nair says it takes them a lot of time to get accustomed to the technical aspects like aperture, shutter speed, and other settings. “So for this photography camp we decided to teach them what and how to shoot with a phone, which has built-in features that will enable them to shoot subjects easily,” says Gayathri Nair, herself a self-taught photographer.
The photography workshop kick-started late November 2018 with a bunch of around 265 students from government and private schools across Chennai. From the lot, a batch of 25 students was taken to the advanced development programme, a two-day photography workshop which set up sessions on the basics of photography like light, composition, framing, and portraiture with the iPhone XR.
Photography workshops for students are generally conducted during day time, but CBE decided to teach kids the essence of night photography by providing them with accommodation.
Gayathri Nair, a self-taught photographer and one of the trustees of @chnpb, explains how her organisation came up with the idea of introducing a photography festival for school students in Chennai. pic.twitter.com/FnDB6wPp4P
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“We wanted to have a student’s showcase. So we thought why can’t we train these kids and display their works at the festival. We decided to take them to the beaches, since it’s accessible, and allowed them to choose their subjects. And also, these children come from various parts of Chennai like Ennore, Puzhal, Tambaram, so we decided to make it residential. We had a camp-fire yesterday; the kids enjoy the company of each other which doesn’t happen normally in our society,“ says Nair.
“I feel happy to be part of this workshop,” says Ramya, a Class IX student of a Chennai government high school. Ramya says she hasn’t had exposure to the world of phones and photography prior to this workshop and this has been her first experience with an iPhone. “I thank my mom for allowing me to take part in this event. With the iPhone, I took pictures in the night and it was beautiful,” giggles Ramya.
“Though I know about iPhones, I never owned one. Here I took pictures on the beach and it was wonderful. This workshop had made me believe I can become a professional photographer in the future,“ says Vrinda, a student of PSBB High School, Chennai.